Our Story Time series brings you real, personal examples from business life that shed light on ways to lead with trust. Our last story illustrated how one conversation changed everything. Today’s selection highlights the value of making a personal connection.
A New Anthology
When it comes to trust-building, stories are a powerful tool for both learning and change. Our new book, The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust (Wiley, October 2011), contains a multitude of stories. Told by and about people we know, these stories illustrate the fundamental attitudes, truths, and principles of trustworthiness.
Today’s story is excerpted from our chapter on selling to the C-suite. It vividly demonstrates the value of paying attention to more than just the task-at-hand, and taking the risk to put personal before business.
From the Front Lines: Taking a Chance on Connection
Gary Celli tells a story of the business value of building trust quickly with a C-level client.
“I was working in California for a multi-national high-tech company. I was a project manager at the time, and the project I was leading was rife with difficulties—nothing atypical, just the usual stuff. We were also trying to position additional work with the customer.
“One day, the CIO asked specifically to meet with me. Until that point I had been dealing with his directors, so he and I hadn’t spent any time together beyond a brief interaction at the big project kickoff meeting. You can imagine I was a little on edge about the meeting.
“The first thing I noticed when I arrived at his office was what a mess it was. There were papers all over the place. One chair was so stacked with stuff it wasn’t usable. I glanced around and noticed a copy of the Scranton Journal on the floor—the magazine for my alma mater, the University of Scranton, a small Jesuit university in Pennsylvania. I looked around for a diploma on the wall, but didn’t see anything. So I asked about the magazine.
“It turns out that we were both graduates, now living nearly 3,000 miles away in California. Talking about that really helped break the ice and took the edge off. We spent 30 minutes reminiscing about the school, the campus, the local hang-out bar that all the kids went to. Then we spent about 15 minutes talking about project issues.
“It was a very successful meeting. The bond we had established made it possible for me to glean more information from him and he seemed very open to hearing my perspectives on the project. We got to the heart of the matter in no time. My company also got the follow-on work, and the CIO was a loyal client for years to come.”
What’s your next opportunity to make it personal?
Read more stories about trust:
- How one conversation changed everything
- Risky business
- When to walk away
- An unexpected way to recover lost trust
- An unexpected approach to developing new business with trust
- Leading with trust in the C-suite
Many Trusted Advisor programs now offer CPE credits. Please call Tracey DelCamp for more information at 856-981-5268–or drop us a note @ [email protected].